The free demo for People Cu3ed (Store.steampowered.com) has been out for just over a week now, and it’s been a busy week!
The game itself has been built from day one with the help of a great team of people willing to test the game as it’s developed from a rough and ready prototype, to where it is today – an almost complete (but unpolished!) title. Having the demo out has helped this process even further.
The demo for the game has been played by a series of streamers, reviewers and normal members of the public and the feedback we’ve got from them all has been incredible. A lot of kind souls have played the demo and taken the time to give direct feedback to us about what works, what doesn’t, and what could be better.
Taking everything into account so far, in the last week there have been 4 updates made to the People Cu3ed demo (and countless updates to the unpublished full build). All of these so far have been uploaded to Steam live, and for our other distribution services (WearVR [Wearvr.com] and Itch.IO [Whitway-studios.itch.io]), which don’t allow live updates in quite the same way, we’ve got the latest demo version (1.92) up and live now.
So what have we learnt – and what have we changed?
Well firstly we’ve learnt people are willing to be patient with a small development team. There were a couple of bugs shipped with the free demo to start with, nothing game breaking, but certainly things we should have spotted but didn’t. As soon as they were found – they were swiftly squashed in whatever the next update – but still, it’s frustrating when they pop up, we understand that as we are gamers as well. Regardless – we apologise for them – and thank people for pointing out anything that was amiss!
We’ve also learnt a little more about how people want to perceive the User Interface (UI). We’ve purposefully kept the UI ‘low impact’ throughout (after all – it’s not like we have a bullet count or anything to keep track of in People Cu3ed!), however some of the font combinations weren’t working for some people so we’ve sharpened those up and also addressed some issues with the in-game menu where some users reported the ‘tracked floating’ system we were using was a cause of a sort of motion sickness. All these things were addressed in the latest update today.
We’ve learnt that there are plenty of people out there that are a lot better at the game – and finding new ways to move using our unique mechanics – than we expected. Because of this – a couple of levels especially in the demo was coming across as ‘too easy’. Honestly speaking, as we addressed in our previous article (here: Indiedb.com) it’s been tough to squeeze and balance the difficulty curve into just 5 levels – but we’re pleased to note now that we’ve sharpened things up a little on the early levels and made things a little tougher towards the back end of the demo now as well – and had a ton of learning to help us balance the main game too.
We’ve introduced a completely new mechanic to help control your character cubes. Now by pushing gently forward or back on either the thumb stick or touchpad (depending on the platform you play on) whilst you have hold of your cubes, you can ease them in towards you or push them out – giving more options for movement, and better fine control when a switch or opening is just out of reach. We’re particularly keen to hear from anyone who has played the demo before and after this was introduced to see what they think – so if this is you – please get in touch!
We’ve also continued to work on the performance of the game, reducing the workload on both the GPU and CPU, whilst improving the lighting effects to help with some of the darker levels (that are great fun – but don’t feature in the demo. Sorry!) Bottom line, this game is destined for a lot of the stand-alone VR hardware that is out/coming out soon, and we want those players to have as smooth an experience as possible as well.
One area we wrestled with was the how best to manage the story featured in the demo, and also the tutorial. As much as we love the characters in the game – we’ll be the first to admit, they do like to talk about themselves… A lot… We initially thought by giving players the ability to have a cut down version of the tutorial, we’d satisfy the type of player that wanted the ‘dive right in’ experience, but actually we found players were conflicted – wanting both the comedy of the characters, but to get to the action faster. For now – we’ve added flexibility by including a ‘press to skip’ function for most of the dialogue (except the critical ‘teaching you to play’ stuff). However for future – we’ve listened to what our users are saying about the how they want the gameplay faster as well as the humour of the story – and we have plans for how to handle this in the full game. Whilst we aren’t going to patch the demo with these (we don’t want to spoil any more of the jokes), trust us – in the full game – we’ll get that balance right.
We’ve also heard you on the voice work. Speaking (no pun intended) openly – the story was one of the things that was written up front – right back at the start of the project, and the game made around it. This meant that the voice work was all done very early in the production cycle, and some of it isn’t of the best quality. For our American fans – sorry – we can’t change the British accents, but as far as the clarity goes, yeah – everyone is struggling with one character in particular, so this voice is going to be reworked – as will anything else that doesn’t meet the standard needed for a full ‘paid for’ game.
Lastly we wanted to mention some special support for the company and the game. Playing the game and giving feedback is one thing – but it’s all together another thing to take what you see and put your own spin on it. Upcoming animator and artist @FaultyMuppet on Twitter kindly produced the below image for us yesterday, and we wanted to share it with the world. Please give them a follow for more gaming/VR themed art and animations.
That’s all for now – I’m sure we’ll have more to tell you in a couple of weeks – so make sure you have fun – and as always happy gaming!